Since asking Naomi to paint a portrait of our Bonnie for my wife’s birthday, she was so helpful and professional . From advice on taking the photo to picking one which would catch Bonnie’s personality to the fullest. That thought then went into the painting, producing an excellent portrait of our beautiful dog. The whole process has been second to none. We would have no hesitation recommending her, we love the picture and have already passed her details on to friends who have asked. Well done Naomi and thank you.
My client Karl contacted me after seeing a portrait of a gorgeous Staffy named Rudy, which I’d drawn for his friend. Karl was so impressed with the portrait, that it gave him the idea to commission a portrait of his Labrador for his wife’s upcoming 50th birthday.
Bonnie is a very sweet, bubbly, and totally adorable golden Labrador. She’s always happy and shows it with either a big cheesy grin, or an energetic waggy tail (or both of course!). Bonnie’s a very special member of the family, who is adored by Karl, his wife Eleanor and their children. Knowing how much the portrait would mean to the family, I took time discussing all the options with Karl and working out how best to capture Bonnie’s fabulous personality.
Bonnie’s beautiful personality
Before drawing Bonnie, it was important for me to get an insight into her personality. There were various decisions to make about the portrait in terms of composition, colours, reference photos etc, but understanding her true nature would really help to guide those decisions.
Karl told me how Bonnie is a very patient and gentle character with impeccable manners. She loves being outside and is always on the lookout for other dogs to play with. Her most treasured possession is her ball. If she has her ball with her, nothing else matters. It always gets her undivided attention! She’ll chase it non-stop for hours, never growing tired of the excitement.
Back at home, she loves to follow Eleanor around the house and snuggle up next to her. She’s like her little shadow. The family also own two kittens which Bonnie has taken to mothering. She’s so gentle with them, and can keep them in check with simply a look of disapproval when they do anything naughty! She can often be found curled up asleep with the kittens snuggled in next to her.
Bonnie cosied up with the family kitten.
Planning the perfect portrait
There are always numerous important decisions to make with each pet portrait. What size should it be? Which reference photos to choose? What should the feel of the portrait be? Which background colours to use? Knowing some of Bonnie’s characteristics really helped to influence these decisions and shape the way her portrait came together.
First up, Karl knew he wanted to go for my largest portrait size, 24 x 18 inches. This would be the same size as his friend’s portrait which he’d seen in person. He loved the huge amount of detail, realism and personality that I can weave into a drawing of this size, and so he knew this option would be the perfect choice to capture Bonnie at her best.
Choosing the main reference photo for me to work from proved a slightly trickier task. It’s one of the most important decisions to make, and so we didn’t want to rush this. Karl sent me many gorgeous photos of Bonnie, some out and about in the sunshine enjoying her walks, and some snuggled up at home. We narrowed it down to a small selection but it was so hard to choose between them as they each captured something lovely about Bonnie. Karl consulted with his children, and took some time to carefully consider which one reflected Bonnie’s personality the best. Eventually we chose a photo which was taken fresh from swim which showed her with a huge beaming smile! It was perfect.
The background colour was the next choice, and blue fitted the photo perfectly. Bonnie’s warm golden fur would contrast perfectly against a light blue background, and it would give the feel of Bonnie sitting outside in the sunshine after her swim.
Now all the decisions were made, it was time to get drawing!
Drawing Bonnie’s beaming smile
Bonnie’s portrait took several weeks to draw. It was important to get every detail just right…and there were a lot of details! A portrait this size always takes a lot of concentration and attention, and I wasn’t going to rush any of it. Bit by bit, it slowly came together.
The video below shows a very sped up time-lapse of me drawing Bonnie’s mouth. Her tongue was the most challenging part, and it took a lot of layering and tweaking to get the texture just right.
When the portrait was finished, I emailed Karl a photo of it to check he was happy with everything. He absolutely loved it! I carefully packaged it up and had it shipped off to him a few weeks before his wife’s birthday as this would give him time to get it framed professionally as I’d advised.
On the day of Eleanor’s 50th birthday, Karl and his children presented her with their portrait of Bonnie. I’m pleased to say she was over the moon with it! It made the perfect memorable gift of their beloved Labrador. Even Bonnie herself approves of her portrait!
Bonnie with her portrait.